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Saturday, Jul 12, 2003

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Cochin Port moves court to have seized Lankan trawlers removed

Sajeev Kumar V.

Kochi, July 11

AGGRIEVED by the indifference of the authorities in removing the confiscated Sri Lankan fishing trawlers from the port premises, the Cochin Port has approached the Kerala High Court seeking a direction to remove the 15 trawlers/ fishing boats forthwith.

The port authorities urged the court to issue a directive to the State Home Secretary, the Kochi City Police Commissioner, the Commandant of Coast Guard and others to take immediate steps to remove the 15 confiscated Sri Lankan boats currently moored at the embarkation jetty at Willingdon Island.

The trawlers and boats were apprehended and detained by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard in February 2000 for violating the Indian territorial limits. They were later brought to the port and moored at the jetty, which is owned and maintained by the Cochin Port. This had been done without the consent of the port authorities.

The port officials submitted before the court that most of the trawlers were in a dilapidated condition. Some of them are on the verge of sinking. The ropes used to secure the trawlers are in bad condition and consequently some of the trawlers break their moorings and drift out to the shipping channel. It is with great difficulty that the Marine Department of the port re-berth these trawlers floating in the channel.

Some of the fishermen who were arrested along with these boats and trawlers were convicted of offences under the Maritime Zone Regulation Act and cases against the others have been withdrawn.

Even after this, the concerned authorities have not taken any steps to remove the trawlers and boats or dispose them of, counsel for the port submitted. The court has posted the petition for hearing on July 17.

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